Judge orders Gary schools, EdisonLearning to continue talks
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 July 30, 2012 5:16PM
Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy in Gary, Ind. Wednesday July 11, 2012. Cleanup and organizing efforts were underway inside the school which is now run by EdisonLearning. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 1, 2012 6:13AM
Gary Community School Corp. and EdisonLearning Inc. need to sit down and work out their concerns, a Marion County Superior Court judge told both sides Monday in Indianapolis.
At issue are maintenance problems and student records for the Roosevelt College and Career Academy, a grades 7-12 school now managed by EdisonLearning following a state-ordered takeover last year.
At Monday’s hearing in which EdisonLearning sought a temporary injunction to force the school district to provide records and maintenance repairs, Judge John Hanley heard testimony and told attorneys to submit their arguments by Friday.
Both sides will meet Tuesday afternoon in the Gary law offices of Robert Lewis, the attorney for the school district, said Todd McIntire, senior vice president of operations for EdisonLearning, a New York-based education management company.
McIntire said EdisonLearning sought enforcement of the state’s turnaround law that calls for school districts to provide takeover operators with shared services such as student records, building maintenance and transportation. The company said the district’s lack of cooperation stands in its way of opening school on Aug. 15.
School district spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said student records have been provided. As for maintenance, she said the faulty swimming pool has been fixed and other problems were being addressed.
“Our position is we have not impeded EdisonLearning’s ability to open school on time at all. They have the records, everything is in place ... Some solutions were brought forth,” said Stevens, who suggested EdisonLearning spend some of its state allocation on repairs.
“There’s nothing that would stop them from spending their allocation, which goes far beyond daily membership,” she said.
Stevens said Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt, building and grounds supervisor Virgil Lincoln and School Board members Darren Washington and Nellie Moore testified on behalf of the district.
EdisonLearning has a four-year contract with the Indiana Department of Education to manage Roosevelt, finalized earlier this month. It calls for a payment of $4.1 million to EdisonLearning through the end of the year.
That number rankles Gary school district officials who feel it’s too much money. EdisonLearning projected an enrollment of about 750 students and has about 620 to date. It’s money that would have gone to the district had the state not taken over Roosevelt after years of poor student academic performance.
McIntire said 56 boxes of records for some 600 students were delivered July 25 and audited. He said the records weren’t complete and didn’t include transcripts. He said about 200 student records had not be submitted at all.
“There’s no way to do student scheduling,” he said. After Monday’s hearing, the district agreed to provide electronic records by Tuesday afternoon, McIntire said.
He said maintenance issues still include falling bricks, faulty air conditioning, missing fire extinguishers and a malfunctioning elevator.
“We’re going to do our very best to get results tomorrow,” McIntire said on Monday. “We have to have this building ready, we have 600 coming, and we’ll be giving them a great education.”